June 10th to 16th is Tourism Week In Canada. Tourism Week is a grassroots initiative that brings attention to the economic opportunity available to Canada through travel. Tourism Week aligns tourism organizations, businesses and other partners from across the country around a common vision: A tourism sector that plays a more meaningful role in growing the Canadian economy.
Tourism is a trillion dollar global business. With tourists spending some $3 billion a day, or $2 million a minute, tourism is a lucrative industry. Accordingly, It accounts for one in every 12 jobs, and in terms of exports, it ranks fourth globally after fuels, chemicals and food. Tourism has become one of the world’s fastest-growing industries and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Despite the global financial and economic crisis, people still desire to travel the world. In fact, international tourist arrivals surpassed the one billion mark in 2012, an increase of 4% over 2011. Tourism is also a key driver of Canada’s economy, accounting for more than 608,500 jobs across the country. Last year alone, tourism generated over $82 billion in revenue.
Despite these impressive numbers, both the Manitoba Government and the Federal Government have cut budgets for Travel Manitoba and the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) respectively. In 2011, the CTC had a budget of $100 million to promote Canada abroad; in 2013, their funding has dropped to $58 million. At the same time other countries around the world have dramatically increased their tourism budgets. Ultimately this makes it even more difficult for Canada to compete on the global stage for international visitors.
Few Manitobans truly understand the value of polar bears as a tourism resource for our province. Manitoba’s international calling card are our polar bears; guests travel from all over the world to Manitoba’s stretch of frozen ocean coastline to experience the world’s largest aggregation of wild polar bears. It’s time for all of us here in Manitoba, and for people from all over the world, to make a more personal investment in our polar bears.
John Gunter is General Manager of Frontiers North Adventures, where he plays an integral role in implementing new and sustainable business practices. These practises have lead to Frontiers North being selected in 2011 as an inaugural Canadian Tourism Commission Signature Experience, as well as winners of the Responsible Travel & Tourism Forum’s Leadership Award. John gave a TEDx talk about Manitoba’s polar bears and how the importance of sharing ideas and fostering dialogue plays an important part of the tourism experience Frontier’s North Adventures provides guests.